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APICS Dictionary and the Evolution of Supply Chain

Assistant Professor of Operations Management at Indiana University Southeast (IUS)

Monday October 2, 2017

Editor’s note: The dictionary’s companion mobile app has also undergone changes recently! The name was changed from Learn It to APICS Dictionary and flashcard study tools have been updated for the CPIM reconfiguration. To learn more about APICS Dictionary and the mobile app visit

As the discipline of supply chain management has grown and changed over the years, there hasn’t always been a clear distinction between the merging and blending of fields such as industrial engineering, logistics, operations research, quality management, and now data analytics. The APICS body of knowledge has continually evolved to follow these changes in the discipline. As editors of the APICS Dictionary, Paul Pittman and I have had the unique opportunity to observe and play a role in that progression.

The creation of the CPIM certification was the first important step in clarifying the field of operations management as a respected functional discipline. Over the years, even the formative CPIM certification has adapted with revisions incorporating new concepts such as just-in-time, quality, theory of constraint, S&OP, and supply chain management. Many publications have been written or retitled to address new concepts, and certifications and credentials (CSCP, CLTD, S&OP, SCOR) have been developed to incorporate them. These new concepts were touted by many as a revolution rather than the evolution of our discipline. Throughout these changes to our body of knowledge, our field has grown into what is now known as supply chain management.

APICS has played a key role in solidifying supply chain management as a distinct professional area of study and career path. One of APICS’s premier contributions was the creation of the APICS Dictionary. The creation of a common lexicon helped the field organize and standardize the body of knowledge, enabling it to mature, grow, and keep current with changing technology and business environments. Even as we add new certifications and credentials, the APICS Dictionary is constant and vital part of maintaining an organized and up-to-date body of knowledge.

As the editors of the dictionary we strive to maintain the highest standards for the content it holds. These standards and the designated procedures around them were established by our predecessors to assure the dictionary’s credibility, while also keeping it current with a continually changing business environment. Toward that end, we rely on the contributions of the APICS membership in adding or revising terms and definitions. We always encourage members to submit new terms and definitions to be reviewed based on the designated criteria and considered for the dictionary.

We also work directly with APICS certification committees to ensure that our terms and definitions are consistent with what is used in the exams and review materials. With guidance from the certification committees, the 15th edition of the APICS Dictionary incorporated new terms from the CLTD certification and the SCOR framework. While this is a rigorous process, it is one we are pleased to take part in, knowing it has maintained the credibility and relevance of this important reference through 15 editions and monumental changes in the discipline.

What changes do you predict will impact the supply chain lexicon in the future? What will be the hot topics for consideration when work begins on the 16th edition of the APICS Dictionary next fall?



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  1. safedcate May 07, 2018, 07:22 AM
    Actually i am a student at [LINK REMOVED] and i am studying logistics management , supply chain management .I want ti know will i get job outside india if i have done my study in india
  2. October 04, 2017, 11:28 AM

    Brian, I have to say, excellent work, in advanced!

    I beleive terms like analytics, blockchain, supply chain analytics, supply chain simulation, data science, data scientists, results interpretation in supply chain and operations management, risk simulation, network design & simulation, augmented reality, open source and some other terms will be of great help in the next two years to continue form the vocabulary of our supply chain and operations management professionals.

    The terms above not only can be part of the 16th edition of the APICS dictionary, but also considered in the next revision for SCOR and the rest of the frameworks.

    Thank you!

    Carlos Perozo.

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